Brazil electoral court bars Lula from presidential race

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Brazil's top electoral court has barred former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from running for reelection because of a corruption conviction, just weeks before Brazilians go to the polls for a vote in which he was considered a frontrunner despite being in prison.

Da Silva who once enjoyed wide spread popular support in Brazil had been convicted and incarcerated since April 2018 for receiving bribes.

Moments after the court's pronouncement was announced, members of Da Silva's Workers Party reiterated their will to secure his candidacy by any means possible.

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His Workers Party made a decision to pick him as their candidate anyway not minding that he had lot his appeal; they insist he is innocent of all charges.

The court also ruled that Lula should not appear in the Workers Party's television and radio ads campaign until the ticket has been officially altered to remove him. "It is a political annulment, based on lies and arbitrariness, as done in times of the dictatorship, ' said the text, adding that all recourses will be submitted to the courts so that Lula's political rights can be recognized, as established by law and worldwide treaties ratified by Brazil". Finally, the PT stressed that Lula's candidacy is the response from the Brazilian people to those who usurped power (through the parliamentary-judicial coup perpetrated in 2016 against Constitutional President Dilma Roussef).

Lula's case was a last-minute addition to the Superior Electoral Court's extraordinary session, where seven magistrates in Brasilia began hearing it at 5:00 pm (2000 GMT).

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Justice Edson Fachin disagreed, citing a recent call by a United Nations human rights committee calling for da Silva to be allowed to run while he further appeals his conviction.

A former metalworker and union leader, he rose through the political ranks to serve two terms as president between 2003 and 2011. The text also pointed out that the TSE accelerated the deadlines to analyze the registration of the leader's candidacy in order to exclude him from the presidential race.

He was found guilty in July 2017 and then lost his first appeal in January.

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With da Silva barred, former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad is seen as his party's likely candidate for the presidency. His nearest rival, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, has 19 per cent. He left office with a 90% approval rating, after his policies helped to lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty.